Those who happen to be disproportionately affected by hypertension according to Elliot (2007) are African-Americans. Family history of BP also plays a prominent role in the prevalence of hypertension. In the words of Elliot (2007), "data consistently indicate that BP levels are hereditable." What this means is that studies have clearly demonstrated that an individual's risk of high blood pressure is largely dependent on whether or not there is a history of hypertension in his or her family.
Other contributing factors in this case include but they are not limited to education, diet, alcohol and tobacco use. Individuals who ingest high amounts of sodium effectively decrease or lower the ability of their bodies to retain fluid. This in turn triggers an increase in their blood pressure. It is also important to note that high levels of alcohol intake have been associated with increased risk of blood pressure. For this reason, it makes great sense for individuals to limit their alcohol intake to recommended amounts. It should however be noted that currently, the exact reason as to why heavy drinkers have a higher risk of developing hypertension than moderate drinkers is still unknown (Blonna, Loschiavo, and Watter, 2011). According to the authors, it has been suggested that the damage alcohol occasions to the muscles of an individual's heart could be responsible for hypertension. In regard to education, Elliot (2007) observes that in the past, hypertension has been closely associated with lower levels of education. However, as the author further points out, BP's association with education could "be explained by differences in diet and in BMI between less well educated and better educated individuals." When it comes to tobacco use, Blonna, Loschiavo, and Watter (2011) point out that chemicals present in tobacco have been shown to damage a smoker's artery walls. This according to the authors causes the arteries of a smoker to accumulate significant deposits of fat containing cholesterol plaques. A prominent chemical constituent of tobacco, nicotine as Blonna, Loschiavo, and Watter (2011) point out has also been associated with blood vessel constriction.
In regard to my family, a number of risk factors identified above may be at play. The first risk factor likely to be at play in this case is genetics. As I have already pointed out above, a number of studies have clearly indicated that hypertension tends to run in families. For this reason, given my family's history of hypertension, it is likely that many more members of the family are at high risk of high blood pressure. Next, quite a good number of members of my family are smokers. Smoking as I have also pointed out in the text above increases an individual's likelihood of having hypertension. Although they cannot be categorized as heavy drinkers, a good number of my relatives also take alcohol. Four of those in my family having hypertension are also past the age of 75. Three of these are women. This is largely in consistence with findings to the effect that the risk of hypertension increases with age. It is also important to note that most members of my family are in professions that do not involve much physical activity, i.e. banking and teaching. Perhaps, as a result of their inactivity, quite a good number of my family members could be regarded overweight. As I have already pointed out elsewhere in this text, sedentary lifestyles have been blamed for increased risk of hypertension. Further, obesity is another well-known risk factor for hypertension. In the final analysis, these factors join to increase my family's predisposition to high blood pressure.
The relevance of identifying and reducing the risks of hypertension identified in this text cannot be overstated. This is more so the case given that individuals with hypertension also tend to be at a higher risk of developing a myriad of other health complications including but not limited to stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease (Blonna, Loschiavo, and Watter, 2011). For this reason, I remain convinced that as a health professional, I have an obligation to work with my family in an attempt to reduce or bring down the risk of hypertension in the family. The first step I could take in this case is to advise my family members to embrace physical exercise. Aerobic type exercises would in this case come in handy as they seek to keep their body weight in check. Secondly, I could elect to encourage those in my family who smoke to cease the habit as it leaves them more exposed to high blood pressure. This is more so the case given the harmful effects of some of the chemicals found in tobacco.
Although moderate alcohol intake has not been linked to hypertension, members of my family would be better advised to stop taking alcohol altogether especially given that they are already exposed to hypertension given the family history of the same. Those who find it particularly challenging to "quit the bottle" must ensure that they stick to the recommended levels of alcohol intake. Women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010) must not exceed a single drink per day. On the other hand, men must limit the alcoholic drinks they take per day to two (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Diet is yet another issue members of my family need to focus on. In addition to ensuring that they lower or reduce their intake of sodium or salt in their diet, it would also be prudent for them to enhance their potassium intake. According to the American Heart Foundation (2012), the inclusion of natural sources of potassium in the diet helps in the control of blood pressure. According to the authors, potassium is particularly effective when it comes to lessening sodium effects (American Heart Foundation, 2012).
American Heart Foundation. (2012, April 4). Potassium and High Blood Pressure. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Potassium-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp
Blonna, R., Loschiavo, J. & Watter, D.N. (2011). Health Counseling: A Microskills Approach for Counselors, Educators, and School Nurses (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). How to Prevent High Blood Pressure. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from: http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/what_you_can_do.htm
Elliot, W.J. (2007). Clinical Hypertension: A Companion to Braunwald's Heart Disease. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Health Sciences.
U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health. (2013,…